• Nicola Wenz

Malibu City Council Faces Anonymous Death Threat By Malibu United Methodist Church

On Nov. 13, moments prior to the agenda meeting, the

Malibu Town Hall received a life-threatening email that

targeted City Councilmember, Pro Tem Rick Mullen in

response to his and Mayor Skylar Peak’s visit to the

Malibu United Methodist Church for allegedly saying that

the church should completely stop serving free dinners to

the homeless people in Malibu.

Based on a recent spike in crime rates - presented by the

local law enforcements - local residents believe this is

caused by the free dinners that the Malibu United

Methodist Church has been serving the homeless people

in Malibu since 2014.

Mullen said he got email complaints from all over the

country like New York City, Oregon and Ohio, but the

most threatening one came from someone in Malibu.

“We all got the one [email] from that guy who asked me,

‘Do I want to get shot from behind my head or between

the eyes?’”

Peak opened public comment by pointing out that

information, which “does not fairly represent what took

place at that meeting,” was taken to the media and in

return raised numerous rumors about the mayor banning

the church from feeding the homeless.

“The fact that that was taken and mischaracterized after I

did make it a suggestion that maybe we should stop doing

the feeding in the residential neighborhood, where we as a

city are facilitating numerous complaints on a regular basis directly related to that,” Peak said. “In that

meeting, there was no - absolutely no - concrete determination that they should stop doing that.”

“Anything that has anything to do with Malibu, when you call the press here, it is going to go viral. The city

of Malibu never said anything. Never agreed to anything," said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.

Rosenthal also said that many people have been complaining about the homeless in Malibu but that none of

the people who complained were at the town hall meeting that day.

The Rev. Sandy Liddell of the Malibu United Methodist Church did, however, confront the mayor after the

three-hour discussion on homelessness ended.

In an interview with The Graphics, she said that she too received threats.

“It has been tremendously demonized by the community telling us terrible things,” Liddell said. “They did not

tell us to shut down the dinners. ‘They can’t tell us,’ they said. They ‘suggested’ that we do. So now we’re

stopping our dinners. We have had so much publicity and the community has responded negatively since all of

this has started.”

In reality, it was suggested that the church should stop cooking dinners for a temporary five months, according

to Peak.

Mullen gave examples of homeless people in Malibu chasing parents and their children with an ax and also

following others around the library, informing toddlers about what weapons they possessed. He used these

examples to show that there might actually be a possible correlation between the dinners and the increased

crime rates in Malibu.

“As a councilmember, we have to be concerned about public safety,” Mullen said. “A number of people

that contacted us expressed concern… We didn’t jump to any conclusions. We had a meeting.”

In this

meeting, Mullen was told by “stakeholders concerned with homeless issues” that the dinners are “a

magnet. People do come from out of town [to Malibu.]”

Yet, to provide the audience further visual evidence, the local law enforcement joined the town hall

meeting and presented statistics showing the crime rates* in general in Malibu and crime rates specifically

caused by the homeless community, both from 2001-2017. According to Lt. James Royal, there was a

dramatic increase in homeless-related calls for service beginning in 2013/2014.

“In the most recent five-year period [2013-2017], there were around 3,337 homeless related calls for

service,” Royal said. “But I would also like to add that that does not tell the whole story.”

In the end, there were 11 public comments made by residents who are fully committed to recognizing the

dignity of the homeless people. Nancy Rosenquist, for example spoke about the importance of a

community in order to help people get “back up onto their feet.”

“I used to live on a cardboard box…If I can do it,” Rosenquist started. “Anyone can do it, but they can’t do

it alone.”

During the meeting, Susan Deunas, the Malibu public safety manager announced that the city has a

$50,000 grant for planning on the issue of homelessness. The council reiterated that collectively it is

committed to finding a way to better serve Malibu’s homeless people. However, for the moment, the only

suggestion for Liddell was to turn the efforts involved in the church dinner to making box lunches that can

be delivered to the homeless people.

More information to follow.

*Crime rates: Including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, grand theft vehicle

and arson.

Click on the link to watch full video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PKllbArGQg


Follow Nicola Wenz on Twitter: @nicocowenz